Boy A

Review From User :

I will never. Never. Complain about my childhood again.

Okay, that's not true. I will. But when I let out a sad sigh of remorse that I didn't figure out exactly why I really wanted to be friends with that one guy in band in high school until it was way too late to do anything about it, I will at least think, "At least I wasn't killing people and snorting gunpowder."

Like most of you reading this, I knew absolutely nothing about what was happening in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. I didn't know there was anything to know. For all I knew, we had fixed Africa back in '84 when the First World Lonely Hearts Club Band belted out "We Are The World" and made us all notice the famine in Ethiopia. And anyway, that was in east Africa. West Africa was supposed to be a little better organized.

Shows how much I knew. Turns out all hell was breaking loose. After more than a decade of one-party rule, the Sierra Leonean military got into power and behaved pretty much the same way most African military governments did. Badly.

In reaction, a rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) started rampaging through the country. Their initial cause was to get rid of a corrupt government, but they very quickly went corrupt themselves, burning and slaughtering as they went. The rebels were vicious and bloodthirsty, and one of their most common ways of recruiting was to murder men and woman en masse and bring their sons into the fold. They would manipulate them with fear and drugs and hate, turning boys of ten, eleven, twelve years old into murderers.

Ishmael Beah was on the other end of this. His family was killed when the RUF ran over his town, along with most of his friends. He and his schoolmates tried to run away, but were eventually ensnared by the army. The army of Sierra Leone were hard-pressed to fight the rebels, and needed recruits. So they would take in boys who had been left orphaned and rootless by the war and hook them on fear and drugs and hate, turning boys of ten, eleven, twelve years old into murderers.


This is the story of Beah's descent into horror and his successful return from it. He was one of way too many child soldiers in Africa, and probably one of the very few who came through his experience not only intact, but willing to write about it. I first saw him on The Daily Show, and honestly it is really tough to reconcile what you read in this book with the bright-eyed, smiling young man sitting across from Jon Stewart.

Thanks to Dad, for the birthday present.... *smile*

A is for Apple. A bad apple.

Jack has spent most of his life in juvenile institutions; he’s about to be released with a new name, new job, and a new life. At 24, he is utterly innocent of the world, yet guilty of a monstrous childhood crime.

To his new friends, he is a good guy with occasional flashes of unexpected violence. To his girlfriend, he is strangely naive and unreachable. To his case worker, he’s a victim of the system and of media-driven hysteria.

And to himself, Jack is on permanent trial: he struggles to start from scratch, forget the past, become someone else.

At a time when the privacy of the individual is under threat from all sides, BOY A raises fundamental questions about the morality of the media.

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